Urban Birder backs RSPB Minsmere path project for disabled

Kathy Piotrowski, of Waveney Bird Club, takes part in the club's wheelchair and mobillity scooter bi

Kathy Piotrowski, of Waveney Bird Club, takes part in the club's wheelchair and mobillity scooter birdwatch at RSPB Minsmere last year. The event was a fundraiser for a new access path to the reserve's East Hide. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Naturalist and broadcaster David Lindo is helping Waveney Bird Club’s Access for All initiative at Minsmere.

Urban Bider David Lindo, who will be presenting a talk in Halesworth for Waveney Bird Club's Access

Urban Bider David Lindo, who will be presenting a talk in Halesworth for Waveney Bird Club's Access for All path project. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Waveney Bird Club

He’s known as the Urban Birder, but David Lindo will be swapping city life for the delights of a small Suffolk market town later this month,

The popular naturalist and broadcaster will be appearing in Halesworth in support of a project that aims to improve access for disabled people to one of the most famous birdwatching hides in the UK.

Waveney Bird Club’s Access for All path project is striving towards the provision of a new path to the East Hide at the famous RSPB Minsmere nature reserve. The new route, covering about 400 metres, would provide wheelchairs and mobility scooters access to the hide via a newly created path leading from the reserve’s North Wall to the hide which gives spectacular views across Minsmere’s bird-rich Scrape area of shallow lagoons and islands.

The club is currently working closely with the RSPB and structural engineers on the project and is fundraising for it, with the Halesworth talk by Mr Lindo due to take place on Tuesday, January 16.

A widely published author, television and radio presenter and inner-city nature expert, Mr Lindo has visited more than 270 cities around the world in search of urban wildlife. His talk in support of the Access for All project will have the appropriate title of Tales from Concrete Jungles.

Kathy Piotrowski, who is managing the project for the club, said structural engineers were continuing studies to establish the best design for the path. The project had recently been boosted by a £2,570 grant from the Suffolk Secrets holiday letting agency and had also received strong financial support from club members through various events and many donations had come from a variety of other sources. A target figure of about £30,000 had been proposed but, said Mrs Piotrowski, “that is a bit of an open-ended estimate at present and we will just keep fundraising until we have absolutely established the exact design and had the path actually built.”

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The path would offer easy access to a hide that was currently difficult to reach for some people. People in wheelchairs, mobility scooters and even people pushing prams had problems getting there, she said. Between the North Wall and East Hide a sandy path through coastal dunes presented difficulties and access to the structure also entailed climbing steep steps.

“We will keep working on the project and keep raising the funds that will be needed for it,” said Mrs Piotrowski. “We need to keep the environmental impact of the whole construction period, and that of the path itself, to an absolute minimum - it is, after all, on a very important and much-loved nature reserve - and we believe it will be a great benefit to the site and its visitors,” she added.

The club has staged many fundraising events for the project since fundraising was launched in 2016. Television naturalist Iolo Williams gave a talk for the cause at the Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, and Suffolk entertainer Charlie Haylock presented his Eccentric Look at Spoken English at Beccles Public Hall. One fundraising event was especially appropriate - a sponsored birdwatch at RSPB Minsmere that was undertaken by people on mobility scooters.

Mr Lindo’s talk takes place at The Cut, Halesworth. Tickets cost £10 and can be booked online at http://newcut.org/events/entry/6586

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